Perceptions of school toilets as a cause for irregular toilet habits among schoolchildren aged 6 to 16 years

J Sch Health. 2005 Apr;75(4):125-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2005.tb06656.x.


Irregular bladder and bowel habits can contribute to urinary and bowel problems. Schoolchildren undergoing treatment for these problems often do not follow the recommendation of regular toilet visits at school, claiming negative perceptions of school toilets. This study examined 6- to 16-year-old schoolchildren's perceptions of school toilets and whether the perceptions affect bladder and bowel habits at school Some 385 Swedish schoolchildren aged 6 to 16 years were surveyed using a semistructured questionnaire. Children aged 13 to 16 years had the most negative perceptions. Twenty-five percent (overall 16%) of older children reported never using the school toilet to urinate, and 80% (overall 63%) never used it to defecate. Perceptions of sight and smell and emotional constraints hindered children from using the school toilets. Children generally based their perceptions of school toilets on physical appearance, offensive smell, and feelings of insecurity. Children's perceptions affected their toilet habits and would rather endure physical discomfort than the psychological and social discomfort of using the school toilet. Children already suffering from urinary tract or intestinal problems face particular difficulties without regular toilet visits during the day.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health
  • Child
  • Constipation / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Perception
  • Schools*
  • Smell
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Toilet Facilities*
  • Urination Disorders / etiology*